Microsoft vs MikeRoweSoft

Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft was a legal dispute between Microsoft and a Canadian High School student named Mike Rowe over the domain name “MikeRoweSoft.com. The case received international press attention following Microsoft’s  approach to a 12th grade student’s part-time web design business and the subsequent support that Mike Rowe received from the online community.

The domain name MikeRoweSoft.com was initially registered by Canadian student Mike Rowe in August 2003. Rowe set up the site as a part-time web design business, choosing the domain. Microsoft saw the name as trademark infringement because of its phonetic resemblance to their trademarked corporate name and demanded that he give up the domain. Rowe asked for compensation for giving up the domain.

Microsoft offered to pay Rowe’s  $10, the original cost of registering the domain name. Rowe countered asking instead for $10,000. He claimed that  he did this because he was “mad at” Microsoft for their initial $10 offer. Microsoft declined the offer and sent a cease and desist order spanning 25 pages. Microsoft accused Rowe of setting up the site in order to try to force them into a large financial settlement, a practice known as cybersquatting.

Rowe went to the press, creating publicity for the case and garnering support for his cause, including donations of over $6,000 and an offer of free advice from a lawyer. At one point Rowe was forced to take down his site after it was overwhelmed by around 250,000 page views over a period of twelve hours, only managing to get the site back up after changing to a service provider with a higher capacity. The support that Rowe received softened Microsoft’s stance  leading to a settlement.

In late January 2004, it was revealed that the two parties had come to an out of court settlement, with Microsoft taking control of the domain. In return Microsoft agreed to pay all of the expenses that Rowe had incurred including setting up a new site at and redirecting traffic to MikeRoweforums.com. Additionally, Microsoft provided Rowe with a subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network, an all expenses paid trip for him and his family to the Microsoft Research Tech Fest at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington, training for Microsoft certification and an Xbox with a selection of games. Following an online poll, Rowe donated most of his legal defense fund to a children’s hospital and used the remaining money for his future university education.

Source: Microsoft vs MikeRoweSoft

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